Every age hath its own problem, and every soul its particular aspiration. The remedy the world needeth in its present-day afflictions, can never be the same as that which a subsequent age may require. Be anxiously concerned with the needs of the age ye live in, and center your deliberations on its exigencies and requirements. - Bahá'u'lláh
Does what I say and do, really matter? There are so many oppressive forces about us today, that often we are left feeling that our small work, our daily efforts are really so minuscule in comparison to the battery of no's we face that seem to be working against not only us, but everything we love. How then can our work matter?
This life challenges us in so many ways, but one of the strongest is that in our essence we are made of spirit and yet we live in a material world. Why does this matter? Because spirit energy moves very differently then material energy.
Spirit energy knows no restrictions of time and has no physical bounds! It is why our dreams and visions are so important to our movement. We are able to envision a different reality, we are able to dream up incredible worlds in which we participate in without limitations. Because this is the reality of our spirits, they are energy that is moved by the force of our visions and dreams. These then are animated by what nourishes our spirits and that is the information we feed ourselves through the material we read and digest.
What you feed your spirit matters.
How do we feed our spirits? Divine teachers and sages of all eras have said the same thing: Holy words and prayers. Holy words that uplift your spirit and vision to a true picture of who you are. Prayers that remind you of your true essence and strengthen you to continue on.
But does reading sacred text in the 21st Century even matter anymore?
Luckily for us, Western science is catching up and we are being told that when we are positive and we surround ourselves with positive messages and affirmations, we change for the better! So reading sacred text, poetry that sees through the night, writers that have wrestled with their demons and found light out of darkness...listening to songs that ask us to stretch wider, even through our pain, this all feeds our spirit and helps widen our vision.
So what does this have to do with spirit and material matter?
Because unlike spirit energy, material energy is stable and solid, it is slow to change and constant - so it can create the illusion of permanence. When we look at the world through a material lens we think things will always be as they are, that change will be slow to come and may never come and if we believe this illusion, then we are in danger of giving up...of not seeing the immense value of our efforts, both in words and actions.
And so we become dependent on the material world and we think if there is to be change we must be fully in charge. I know that if I move a chair change happens. If I wash my clothes I remove the stains. And so I begin to believe that all of life is like this and if I am to be in charge, then I can create the change I want by controlling the outcome of each action I take. This is the illusion of control - that somehow if we are just to be in charge, then we can control outcomes.
When we believe the illusion of control we begin to actually become out of control, by trying to control every aspect of our lives and the lives of others. We direct our children. We subjugate our employees into submission through systems of reviews and write-ups. We manipulate and maneuver every aspect of our lives so that the outcome matches our vision of what is right and true.
So why is this bad?
When we become so consumed by control we lose control, our emotions are left unattended as they are not part of our vision of control and when you leave powerful energy like emotions unattended, they can become destructive. Eventually our control will meet a force that will challenge its ability. When we meet this force it will push us to either submit and learn to listen to our spirit energy as a motivating force or we will degenerate into more inhumane behaviors in an effort to control an outcome we desire. We may rationalize these behaviors as necessary to achieve the outcome we believe to be right and true, when the reality is, we may actually be scared of what does it mean if we do not achieve our outcome. Because dependence on the material world for our personal well-being and worth, sets us up to a very high standard of success that is also measured by the material world. We begin to believe that more money, means more success; a promotion, means more success; a bigger house, means more success. And we lose sight of that which might actually be of greater service to us for all eternity: the strength of our spirit.
The strength of our spirit is the one thing we do get to take with us when we die.
And how do we strengthen our spirit?
By releasing control. Learning to work with others and their vision. Learning to develop tact and wisdom of when to speak out and when to remain silent. Learning to have patience and faith in the process of growth that all of humanity is moving through. And of supreme importance, learning to have humility...trusting that whatever our spirit aspires to, when guided by the forces of love and unity, will most assuredly contribute to the progress of the world.
In the words of one of the great Luminaries of the East,
I guess we cannot really say what impact our efforts and work has on the world, but I will trust Bahá'u'lláh and be anxiously concerned with the needs of this age that we live in and make every effort that my deeds reflect the best of my spirit and what I have to offer the world.